About Aluminum


What is Aluminum

Aluminium or aluminum is the chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Al and atomic number 13. It is a silvery and ductile member of the poor metal group of chemical elements. Aluminium is found primarily as the ore bauxite and is remarkable for its resistance to corrosion (due to the phenomenon of passivation) and its light weight.

Aluminium is used in many industries to make millions of different products and is very important to the world economy.

Structural components made from aluminium and its alloys are vital to the aerospace industry and very important in other areas of transportation and building in which light weight, durability, and strength are needed.

History of Aluminum

The ancient Greeks and Romans used aluminium salts as dyeing mordants and as astringents for dressing wounds; alum is still used as a styptic. In 1761 Guyton de Morveau suggested calling the base alum 'alumine'. In 1808, Humphry Davy identified the existence of a metal base of alum, which he named (see Spelling section).

Friedrich Wöhler is generally credited with isolating aluminium (Latin alumen, alum) in 1827 by mixing anhydrous aluminium chloride with potassium. However, the metal had been produced for the first time two years earlier in an impure form by the Danish physicist and chemist Hans Christian Orsted. Therefore almanacs and chemistry sites often list Orsted as the discoverer of aluminium.Still it would further be P. Berthier who discovered aluminium in bauxite ore and successfully extracted it. The Frenchman Henri Saint-Claire Deville improved Wöhler's method in 1846 and described his improvements in a book in 1859, chief among these being the substitution of sodium for the considerably more expensive potassium.

The statue known as Eros in Piccadilly Circus London, was made in 1893 and is one of the first statues to be cast in aluminium.Aluminium was selected as the material to be used for the apex of the Washington Monument, at a time when one ounce cost twice the daily wages of a common worker in the project; aluminium was a semiprecious metal at that time.

The American Charles Martin Hall of Oberlin, Ohio applied for a patent (400655) in 1886 for an electrolytic process to extract aluminium using the same technique that was independently being developed by the Frenchman Paul Héroult in Europe. The invention of the Hall-Héroult process in 1886 made extracting aluminium from minerals cheaper, and is now the principal method in common use throughout the world. The Hall-Heroult process cannot produce Super Purity Aluminium directly. Upon approval of his patent in 1889, Hall, with the financial backing of Alfred E. Hunt of Pittsburgh, PA, started the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, renamed to Aluminum Company of America in 1907, later shortened to Alcoa.

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